With three years to go until the UN Millennium Development Goals’ 2015 target date, campaigners at Micah Challenge’s Voices for Justice event will seek to keep poverty alleviation high on the political agenda in the lead up to next year’s Federal election.
Voices for Justice, Micah Challenge’s four-day annual worship, training and lobbying event from September 15-18, will gather first-time and seasoned campaigners from all parts of the Christian church and take the cause of the poor into the halls of Parliament House.
“Each year it’s amazing to see Christians from all over the country put their faith into action by making personal and financial sacrifices to come to Canberra and speak out on behalf of the world’s poorest people,” says John Beckett, National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia.
In private meetings with MPs and Senators, anti-poverty advocates will specifically address the priority of maintaining a bipartisan commitment to lifting overseas aid to 0.5% of national income by 2016/17 and committing to the UN target of 0.7% by 2020 – which is 70c in every $100.
“In recent years we have seen our Government take some significant steps in the effort to alleviate global poverty, but there is still much to be done,” says Mr Beckett. “Australia is currently giving just 35 cents in every $100 dollars we make as a nation to overseas aid. In a world where more than 7 million children die before their fifth birthday each year from preventable causes, we can and should do more.”
“If Australia is serious about halving global poverty by 2015, we need to finish what we started when we signed onto the Millennium Declaration in 2000 and significantly lift our game.”
Over the past five years, in response to the call of the Old Testament prophet Micah to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God, Voices for Justice participants have persistently called on Australia’s leaders to increase efforts to reduce extreme poverty.
These everyday Australians have contributed to specific policy changes that have saved tens of thousands of lives, including a debt-swap with Indonesia to increase investment in health, and greater investment in water and sanitation through Australia’s aid program.
Voices for Justice has become an annual event for seasoned campaigner Anne Camac, who has attended for the past five years.
“We have the chance to decrease suffering and poverty and we are only part-way through the work, so I can’t and don’t want to stop now,” says Mrs Camac.
This year’s Voices for Justice event also forms the launching pad for Micah Challenge’s ‘Finish the Race’ campaign which will engage Australian churches, schools and individuals over the coming year in a united effort to halve global poverty by 2015.
For more information, visit www.micahchallenge.org.au.